Innovative Computer Science Workshops Aim to Attract Secondary School Students to Study Computing

Posted on: 15 December 2008

The School of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity College Dublin piloted a  week long series of  innovative workshops  in December to encourage second level students to pursue computer science programmes at third level. The initiative was in response to the decrease in numbers opting to study computer science at third level whose graduates are essential in underpinning the ICT sector and the broader knowledge economy.

These innovative, week long, workshops were held in a specially designed and decorated learning space at Trinity’s Bridge2College  (Oriel House, Westland Row). The look and feel of this original venue  is very unlike that of a classroom. It  was built to facilitate teamwork and collaboration, and encourage a creative approach to learning. The space is structured according to progressive classroom and learning space design.

Twenty-four transition year students at a time, experienced a week of College life with a strong immersion in computer science concepts and programming. All learning was based around collaborative projects and used instructional material especially designed by the Science Foundation Ireland funded LERO Software Engineering Research Centre for teaching programming to transition year pupils. Participants were drawn from a selection of secondary schools, including schools participating in the Trinity Access Programme which specifically targets schools where third  level participation rates remains low.

Commenting on the progress of the students in developing programming skills, the project director, Stephen Barrett at the School of Computer Science said: “Results from the workshops  have clearly demonstrated the creativity and ability of young people. The academic staff involved have been amazed by the pace with which they assimilate new learning in computer science.”